Can you still have "potential" at midlife? The answer is yes!

Reading: Yes! You Still Have “Potential” for Greatness at Midlife


Yes! You Still Have “Potential” for Greatness at Midlife

Everyone says we have "potential" until we hit midlife. Then it stops. Why?

By Lesley Jane Seymour

I have a bone to pick with society about the way it uses the word “potential.”

From the day we are born, we are told we all have “potential.”  We spend our entire lives driving for achievement, fixated on a bright, shiny potential greatness that spreads infinitely before us. With every class we take, every extracurricular activity we squeeze into our day, our teachers and parents outline our potential to become a great ballet dancer, a famous cook, a respected doctor, an admired professional athlete, a breakthrough scientist, meaningful teacher, or important writer. When we go to college our potential increases: we are a “potential” academic, tech magnate, or researcher who will find the cure for cancer.

After our first jobs, we become potential candidates for promotion. And so it goes as we hack our way up the corporate mountain, moving sideways toward potential advancement elsewhere, then moving up again as we find our new potential in another organization. Somewhere along the way, if we so choose, we have the potential to have a great family, to find a mate, and have kids with great potential. And we raise that family to have great potential of its own. And then those kids grow up and in order to reach their potential, may move away to pursue their dreams.

And here’s my question: so what happens to us at midlife? Why does the world stop mentioning the word “potential” around us? Ever. It’s as if society has decided we are done, finished, used up.

Well, I’m having none of that.

I believe that at midlife all of us have great potential for a very fulfilling second half of our lives. I believe we have enormous potential — plus the knowledge and savvy, and perhaps finally the funds — to reinvent ourselves. We have the potential to go back to school to pursue new adult dreams. We have the potential to change direction to rethink our relationships with our mates, with our homes, with our communities. We have great potential to contribute in a new way to the corporations we work for or to the world around us. We have the potential to transform from great parents into great coaches and friends for our kids.

Potential is a mindset. Everything we do at CoveyClub is designed to make sure you see that. To ensure you can learn from other women just like you who have been there, done that, and are launching exciting new adventures in their lives. Midlife is the time you get to reset your clock, reset your needs and your wishes, to give the finger to what society says — about everything. This is your time. Covey is here to help you make the most of it.

  1. Valerie

    I’m ready to start my next phase, but finding a place in the younger job market is difficult.

    • lesley

      This is difficult for many people. That is why we need to keep learning and reinventing. We will tackle those questions headon here Valerie!

  2. Vanessa Jiang

    Can’t agree more. I moved to this country last year at my midlife, leaving behind a tax executive career at a public company which appears stagnant. Now I spend time investing myself to achieve more in the future. So far I’m happy with the decision.

  3. Ann F. Clark

    Couldn’t agree more! I know plenty of women including myself, who are a place with limited means due to losses (but gains at the same time), so this next phase becomes somewhat of a challenge, but indeed exciting. Two fingers up for this piece, Lesley (thumbs to you, the other fingers to society)…

  4. Catherine Hilton

    I love the way you think Lesley. And the way you string words together. You are spot on and very inspirational! Here’s to slaying dragons in mid-life!

    • lesley

      Thanks Catherine. It’s a lifetime of trying to be honest with friends and readers, to cut through the stuff we try and hide or feel bad about.

  5. Leslie A Nipkow

    From one Leslie to another, this piece could not have come at a more opportune moment. Thank you. At 55, I am at the height of my powers (although I plan on raising the bar, but that’s potential). I can’t hide my age when going out for new opportunities, so I’m leading with it. The jury’s out, as it were, but I can’t see going any other way, so I, we persist. You are an inspiration, a leader, and beautifully human. Thank you.

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